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Releases still a struggle for small businesses

Posted at 8:01 PM, Mar 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-02 20:37:10-05

Dan Neumann, owner of Coastal Paddleboarding in Stuart, is hitting the keyboard instead of the water this week.

"So they are asking me if I have an estimate of how much it has cost my business," he said while looking at a new survey.

Governor Rick Scott just announced the opening of a virtual business emergency operations center, after declaring a state of emergency in Martin and St. Lucie counties.

"The rug has been pulled right out from under us literally by removing the ability to use the water," said Neumann.

Business owners like can now fill out an online Business Damage Assessment survey to try to get help following Lake Okeechobee water releases.

Neumann said he's looking for a way to paddle upstream, after closing for three weeks, blaming poor water quality from Lake Okeechobee discharges.

"Prior to this we had two full time employees and two part time employees," he said. "None of them are employed with us anymore."

The state said there could be relief. It includes temporary financial assistance to get businesses back on their feet--- or in Neumann's case---back on a board. There could also be longer term recovery programs focused on training.

"We encourage all business that are affected by the federal government's water release to fill out the survey, because we need all the information we can get about what local businesses needs are so we can connect those businesses to the resources available," said Cissy Proctor, DEO Executive Director.

Neumann called this a ray of hope. "I'm looking forward to filling this thing out to see where it's going to take me," he said.

As the surveys are collected, state and local officials will use the information to determine if any assistance programs are needed.

Survey: Link.